1 September 2021

Bethell makes winning start on badminton's Paralympic debut

Daniel Bethell enjoyed a winning start to his Tokyo campaign after becoming the first badminton player to represent ParalympicsGB at a Games.

The 25-year-old recovered from an indifferent first few points to beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 21-11 21-7, the perfect opening to competition in the men’s singles SL3 class.

He will next face Indonesia’s Ukun Rukaendi on Friday, with the Group B seed knowing that victory would see him progress to the semi-finals.

And while some would have hoped for an easy start to Paralympic competition, Bethell was grateful to be tested right from the off in a match which featured rallies that lasted more than 70 shots.

“I’ve played Fujihara many times. We always have really close matches – he’s a really good player so I knew I had to be on my game,” said Bethell.

“I felt like I had a good game plan going into this match and I stuck to it really well. I’m happy with the result.

Shephard will face a familiar foe in his first Paralympic match

“I feel really good, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve been training really well and been out here for a few weeks with really good preparation coming in, so I feel confident that I can go for the gold.

“Like Fujihara, I’ve played Rukaendi many times. He’s a great player – he’s one of the fittest so I’m preparing myself for long rallies, but I feel really good after that match.”

Badminton is one of two sports which is making its Paralympic debut in Tokyo, with Britain’s Martin Rooke in action on Thursday when he faces Dumnern Junthong in men’s singles WH2.

There’s also an all-ParalympicsGB contest to look forward to with Jack Shephard and Krysten Coombs on opposite sides of the net in the men’s singles SS6 category.

The pair could both progress to the semi-finals with the top two in the three-man group, which also features Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai, progressing to the last four.

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